Arts & Culture

Wylliams/Henry dance company’s October show takes on current events, racial tensions

Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company will present “Southern Exposure” for just the second time since it debuted in 2010. “I decided to do ‘Southern Exposure’ again because of what is happening in the nation,”  the company’s artistic director and co-founder, Mary Pat Henry said.
Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company will present “Southern Exposure” for just the second time since it debuted in 2010. “I decided to do ‘Southern Exposure’ again because of what is happening in the nation,” the company’s artistic director and co-founder, Mary Pat Henry said.

The Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company has never shied away from exploring social issues.

“Juncture,” a program of four works the company will perform Oct. 4 and 5 at White Recital Hall, will be a typically bold Wylliams/Henry presentation of thought-provoking and challenging works that cast light on contemporary issues.

“Juncture” will include the new piece created by Frank Chaves for Wylliams/Henry’s recent New Dance Partners concert, “Fragment” by Christian Denice and “The List” by Christopher Huggins, a work inspired by the Stephen Spielberg film “Schindler’s List.” ‘

Concluding the program will be an autobiographical work by the company’s artistic director and co-founder, Mary Pat Henry, called “Southern Exposure.”

First performed by Wylliams/Henry in 2010, “Southern Exposure” draws on Henry’s experience growing up in South Carolina. This will be the second time the company has done the work.

“It took me until 2010 to have the courage to do create it,” Henry said. “I decided to do ‘Southern Exposure’ again because of what is happening in the nation.”

Henry cites the riots in Ferguson and the massacre of nine African-Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston as just two examples of racial tension in the United States. She’s updating certain aspects of “Southern Exposure,” which is set in the ’60s, to allude to more current events.

“I’m going to try to use very subtle radio and television clips that will make reference to what has been happening recently,” Henry said. “I want to bring together where we were, how far we’ve come and how it’s time to come together again.”

Although “Southern Exposure” is based on her own experiences, Henry says she wanted her ballet to transcend her own viewpoint.

“All the things in ‘Southern Exposure’ are actual events and the characters are actual people,” she said. “I was lucky because my family was not prejudiced, but most every other white person I knew was. Even though the ballet is autobiographical, it’s not a white perspective or a black perspective. It’s the perspective of somebody standing by, at times stepping in to say things, at times just watching this unfold, wondering how do we get through this.”

7:30 p.m. Oct. 4 and 5. White Recital Hall, 4949 Cherry St. $15-$24. 816-235-6222 or www.wylliams-henry.org.

KC Symphony opening weekend

The Kansas City Symphony conducted by Michael Stern will kick off its new season with a festive program Oct. 4-6 at Helzberg Hall.

Beginning with the rousing Finlandia by Jean Sibelius, the orchestra will also perform another nationalistic work, Blanik from Má vlast, or My Fatherland, by Smetana, It’s a musical depiction of the legendary Bohemian mountain in which the army of St. Wenceslas is supposed to sleep, waiting to be roused for its next defense of the fatherland.

Pianist Martin Helmchen will join the symphony for Robert Schumann’s always popular piano concerto and, to make the concert extra special, there will be the world premiere of work commissioned by the Kansas City Symphony, “The Golden Spike,” composed by Daniel Kellogg to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad.

8 p.m. Oct. 4 and 5 and 2 p.m. Oct. 6. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $25-$85. 816-471-0400 or www.kcsymphony.org.

Discovery Concert: Randall Goosby

The Harriman-Jewell Series’ Discovery concerts are an opportunity to hear some of the finest up-and-coming classical talent in the world for free. The first Discovery concert of the season will feature violinist Randall Goosby Oct. 5 at the Folly Theater.

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Violinist Randall Goosby, 23, will perform in a free concert as part of the Harriman-Jewell Series’ Discovery series. Randall Goosby

Goosby, 23, has already racked up an impressive set of accomplishments. When he was 13, he became the youngest person to win the Sphinx Concerto Competition, he’s been named a Rising Star of the Stradivari Society and he’s studied at Juilliard under Itzhak Perlman.

For his Kansas City recital debut, Goosby will be accompanied by pianist Jun Cho for music by Giovanni Vitali, Claude Debussy, Richard Strauss and African-American composer William Grant Still, whose beautiful and unique music is not heard often enough.

7 p.m. Oct. 5. Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St. Free. Visit www.hjseries.org to print up to four tickets per household.

You can reach Patrick Neas at patrickneas@kcartsbeat.com and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at www.facebook.com/kcartsbeat.

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